I know a lot of you are deeply disappointed that Obama didn’t suddenly shed all his skin, emerge from a cocoon as some new kind of species and suddenly proclaim, after devouring his press secretary, that the U.S. government should pursue legalization of all drugs.
Well it wasn’t going to happen. However, what did happen had some real value.
Seeing this headline at CBS Political Hotsheet ain’t bad:
However, acknowledging that the “war on drugs” has not been effective, Mr. Obama said he thinks of drugs as “more of a public health problem.”
And then, CBS reporter Stephanie Condon quoted the entire question from retired deputy sheriff MacKenzie Allen.
In his second sit-down with YouTube, Obama again learned that the most popular questions as voted on by users of the online video hub were about the legalization of marijuana.
“This is an entirely legitimate topic for debate,” Obama said after initially chuckling about the subject matter coming up again.
The question posed to the president specifically asked him whether all drugs should be legalized and regulated, “thereby doing away with the violent criminal market as well as a major source of funding for international terrorism.”
“I am not in favor of legalization,” Obama said in response. But he said he thinks Americans should look at drugs more as a public health problem than a legal issue.
It’s going to be a lot harder for Kerlikowske now that Obama has shown that “legalization” is in his vocabulary.
San Francisco Chronicle: Obama: Legalizing drugs a “legitimate” topic of debate
And over and over again in tomorrow’s media, you’ll likely see that excellent question from LEAP.
Not a bad day’s work. Good job on voting.
And I second Scott Morgan’s comment:
Let me begin by saying that the substance of the President’s answer is inconsequential insofar as nothing more than this could possibly have been expected. The greatest significance of today’s event lies in the fact that a pro-legalization police officer overwhelmingly won the popular vote on YouTube and compelled a response from the President of the United States. By acknowledging the legitimacy of this discussion, Obama helps us to dig an even deeper grave for the dying notion that there is anything frivolous or unserious about arguing for an end to the War on Drugs.
The banal pot-jokes and rank stereotyping that have often tainted mainstream discussion of the legalization movement have no place in this conversation, and the President’s words should serve to discredit those who’ve voiced distracting insults instead of potential solutions. Whatever else the President may put forward, his singular decision to accept and defend our advocacy as “entirely legitimate” is a leap forward, both for the discussion as a whole and for Obama himself.
I will address in a separate post the appropriate criticisms of his specific remarks (of which there are many), but let us not fail to find any promise in today’s events simply because we expect much more. This is a heroic accomplishment by our friends at LEAP and really the entire drug policy reform community, which has achieved blinding visibility in recent years and shattered the presumption of public deference that has long sheltered the drug war from mainstream opposition.